Distribution of the Steppe Eagle Aquila nipalensis in the Indian Subcontinent: Review of Records from 1882 to 2013 AD
Satish Pande, Anil Mahabal R. M. Sharma & Pramod Deshpande Ela Foundation, Pune, India www.elafoundation.org
Steppe Eagle Aquila nipalensis Hodgson, 1833
Known Status in Indian Subcontinent Ali and Ripley (1968)
• Winter passage migrant from temperate palaearctic countries. • Regular winter visitor in north India. • Rare in peninsular India. • The southern extent of the Steppe Eagle in India up to Mumbai, Maharashtra. • No records from North-East India.
R a n g e E x t e n s i o n
METHODOLOGY • Records from 1882 to 2013 were compiled and analyzed. • The records included: – Survey of available published literature. – Confirmed photographic records from the Indian subcontinent.
METHODOLOGY PARAMETERS STUDIED • • • • • • • • •
Status, Distributional pattern, Altitudinal range, Habitat choice, Associations with other raptor / avian species, Populations, Age pattern, Seasonality of occurrence and Behaviour
OBSERVATIONS - DISTRIBUTION
RECORDS WERE FOUND FROM THE FOLLOWING COUNTRIES OF THE INDIAN SUBCONTINENT (9 countries)
• • • • • • • • •
India, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nepal, Tibet, Bhutan, Sikkim, Myanmar & Bangladesh
Distribution Pattern in India â€˘ a) North-East India; n=7 (Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Assam);
â€˘ b) Eastern India n=12 (Orissa and West Bengal).
East and North-East India
Distribution Pattern in India â€˘ c) North and North-West India; n=8380 (Jammu Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Haryana, and Punjab); Occurrence in Himachal Pradesh from Dharamsala, Kangra and Simla; in Uttarakhand from Chamoli district; and in Delhi, was reported as common. â€˘ d) Central India; n=5 (Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh).
North and North-West India
Distribution Pattern in India â€˘ e) Western India; n=1939 (Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Goa); In Rajasthan it was common in Bikaner and around Sambhar lake. In Gujarat it was common in Banni. In Maharashtra it was common in Pune and Pachgani. â€˘ f) South India; n=14 (Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala).
Steppe Eagle On the Deccan Plateau
Distribution Pattern in India • WE FOUND NO RECORDS: • From two states of Eastern India – Bihar and – Jharkhand.
• Oceanic Islands – Lakshadweep Islands in the Arabian Sea and – Andaman & Nicobar Islands in the Bay of Bengal.
Distribution Pattern in India
• Our analysis shows that the species is occurring further south of Maharashtra in the states of – Goa, (2004 onwards) – Karnataka, (2005 onwards) – Tamil Nadu and (Straggler but regular records from 2006) – Kerala (2004 onwards).
• Further east in – Arunachal Pradesh, (2010) – Manipur, (2009) – Mizoram (2011).
R a n g e E x t e n s i o n
Distribution Pattern in Indian Subcontinent • In other countries within the Indian subcontinent the Steppe Eagle was: • Common in Nepal (n=66,567 approx.) • It was poorly reported from: – Afghanistan, – Pakistan, – Bhutan, – Sikkim, – Myanmar and – Bangladesh.
ALTITUDINAL RANGE • Within the Indian subcontinent elevation records ranged from: • 0 m in Gujarat and Kerala to • 4500 m asl in Lahul Spiti in Himachal Pradesh; • 4500 m asl in Arunachal Pradesh.
HABITATS OCCUPIED BY STEPPE EAGLE IN INDIAN SUBCONTINENT • • • • • • • • •
Alpine meadows & alpine forest, Cliffs in Himalayan zone, Slopes with sparse vegetation, Gangetic plains & riverside habitats, Desert & semiarid regions, Grassland & tropical thorn forest, Dry deciduous forest; edge forest, Wetland; irrigated cultivation and Urban fringes.
HILLY HABITAT ON THE DECCAN PLATEAU
ASSOCIATIONS WITH OTHER RAPTOR SPECIES • The eagles were seen as single species or in association with other raptors or crows. • Within the same region where the Steppe Eagles were sighted, up to 59 raptor species have been recorded. • This indicates that such regions were suitable raptor habitats.
POPULATIONS • 76,935 Steppe Eagles were reported from the Indian subcontinent spanning 131 years from 1882 to 2013 AD.
• Steppe Eagle was common winter visitor in Nepal (≈ n=66,567) and India.
AGE PATTERN • In Nepal it was reported that young eagles (juvenile and immature – 56 %) dominated over adults (44%) (De Roder, 1989); • In Pune, India, it was observed that adults (n=93; 69 %) were commoner than the young (n=41; 31 %) (Pande et al, 2010).
SEASONALITY • The wintering Steppe Eagles were reported from September to May: • In onward migration; • Return migration and • During winter sojourn.
BEHAVIOUR MIGRATION STRATEGY • Eagles bottleneck at Nepal and subsequently spread out in the Indian subcontinent. • Bottle neck at: – Various Himalayan valleys in Nepal (Annapurna, Kali Gandgki, Arun, Dudhkosi) and – India (Kangra and Dharamsala in Himachal Pradesh).
• Where they were reported in large numbers in passage.
BEHAVIOUR CONGREGATION AT GARBAGE DUMPS • Eagles congregated around garbage and carrion dumps at: – Rajasthan (Tiwari & Varu 2005; Sharma & Sunder, 2009), – Gujarat (Mashru 2005), – Maharashtra (Pande et al, 2010) and – Karnataka (Sant, 2005);
WHY GARBAGE DUMPS ? â€˘ TWO REASONS: 1.Use the early morning thermals on garbage dumps for onward migration. (Pande et al, 2010) 2.Utilize the garbage dumps for food on final destinationâ€ŚIndicating their habit as a scavenging raptor.
KLEPTOPARASITISM MONTAGUE’S HARRIER AND STEPPE EAGLE
MOBBING BY JUNGLE CROW
CONCLUSIONS • Steppe Eagles are now (2004 onwards) recorded across entire India. • Higher populations are recorded in northern states of India and Nepal. • The concentration of populations is along the Himalayan foothills in the east-west direction. • We found records form 9 countries in the Indian subcontinent. • They are rarely reported elsewhere except India and Nepal. • There are no reports from Sri Lanka.
CONCLUSIONS • They are known to associate with various raptor species throughout India. • Though the Steppe Eagles occupy wide range of habitats, they are seen to congregate on garbage dumps. • Theoretically they are at a risk of poisoning by ingesting pesticides and rodenticides, because of their scavenging habit.
SOME REFERENCES •
Ali, S. & Ripley, S. D. (2001). Handbook of the birds of India and Pakistan together with those of Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and Sri Lanka. 2nd Edition. Oxford University Press, New Delhi. Vol. 1. 1-384.
De Roder, Frank, E. (1989). The migration of raptors south of Annapurna, Nepal, autumn 1985. Forktail 4: 9-17.
Pande, Satish., Pawashe, A., Sant, N., Mahabal, A., & Dahanukar, N. (2010). Metropolitan garbage dumps: possible winter migratory raptor monitoring stations in peninsular India. Journal of Threatened Taxa 2 (10): 1214–1218.
Sant, N. (2005). Sighting of Steppe Eagles Aquila nipalensis near Belgaum, Maharashtra, India. Indian Birds 1 (4): 96.
Tiwari, J. K., & Varu, S. N. (2005). Population outbreaks of Lesser Bandicoot-rat Bandicota bengalensis in Chhari-Dhand, and concentration of raptors. Indian Birds 1 (3): 72.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS • References: – Aasheesh Pittie – Zoological Survey of India, W.R.C., Akurdi, Pune
• Photographs: – Kiran Ghadge – Satish Pande
• Maps: – Pramod Deshpande
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